events, events 2018

Hackathon and MakerFest

Photo Credits to Media Club

By Dayrius and Cayden

On 25 August 2018, NUS High held its inaugural Hackathon and Makerfest. The event was packed with workshops and exhibitions showcasing the power of engineering in solving real-world problems. The Engineering Interest Group (EIG) organised multiple activities, including Hovercraft construction, Arduino and TinkerCad workshops. Primary school students learnt the basic physics of a hovercraft and tried their hands at building one out of readily available materials.

External organisations chipped in with DSO coordinating Hack-a-Toy, where participants learn technical skills and modify a toy for children with disabilities. Throughout the workshop, participants honed their proficiency in soldering, circuitry and tinkering in general by modifying a push light to activate toys. While this might appear superfluous, it hugely benefits children with strength or dexterity deficiencies through reducing the effort required to activate toys.

SingaporeJS taught Node.js, a program that allows programmers to use Javascript to write applications for a variety of hardware, including servers, desktops and smartphones. FOSSASIA contributed via their Open Source Pocket Science Lab workshop, a multi-purpose portable instrument capable of acting as a miniature physics lab, acting as a power supply, oscilloscope or multimeter.

In the hall, participants, mostly primary school students, were allowed to roam freely between booths demonstrating various innovative ideas. Quanta, the Physics Interest Group and EIG jointly run a booth with intriguing demonstrations, including wireless charging, hydraulic jacks and even a DIY foosball table. Startups presented their ingenious solutions to pertinent problems, such as expediting delivery of chilled vaccines or cutting plastic waste, among others.

Meanwhile, tension rose within the Hackathon holding rooms. The groups sat together, either working desperately from where they left off, or finishing up their final product. The competitors ranged in skill, from those with basic Python knowledge, to veteran coders who, through labouring throughout the night, had managed to create incredible projects. A particular Year One group that eventually clinched an award, managed to code a simple yet effective AI. When asked a question, it would output a clear and concise answer after trawling the web.

Of course, not everyone can be a winner. As such, here are the highlights that we considered impressive even though the creators still finished without a award. One group managed to create an extremely quick and intelligent computer opponent for the game Twenty, while another managed to code a program to solve math equations. There was also a Year 1 group who created a program to automate the grouping process for class group work, creating shared folders and other necessary resources. In the same vein, another group consisting of lower year students made a notifications app to inform students of administrative announcements, homework and updates from their teachers. The sheer range of projects created was staggering, from web crawlers to video games.

The assortment of original content on show hopefully inspired young participants to experiment and innovate. MakerFest embodied the spirit of engineering and tinkering, with creativity manifested in the myriad of proposals and prototypes, providing a fleeting glimpse of tomorrow’s world.

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